Gastr Del Sol – 20 Songs Less

Style: Avant-Folk, Experimental, Math-Rock

Vibe: Sporadic, Chaotic, Abstract, Agular, Cerebral

Musical Attributes: Noisy, Glitchy, Collage, Complex, Electro-acoustic, Instrumental, Studio-as-an-instrument

Ka Baird – Sapropelic Picnic

Style: Psychedelic Minimalism, Post-Minimalism, Ritual Folk

Vibe: Ritualistic, Hallucinogenic, Hypnotic, Earthy, Primal, Psychedelic, Spiritual

Musical Attributes: Electro-Acoustic, Loops, Minimalistic, Sampling

Instrumentation: Manipulated Vocals, Flute, Synthesizer (Moog), Drum Samples, Vibraphone

Mount Eerie – Sauna

Style: Experimental Singer/Songwriter, Avant-Folk, Drone

Vibe: Winter, Existential, Imaginative, Introspective, Contemplative, Epic, Philosophical, Poetic, Ethereal, Loner, Meditative, Eclectic

Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Droney, Lo-Fi, Lyrical, Progressive

Spires that in the Sunset Rise – Psychic Oscillations

Psychedelic electro-acoustics and earthy minimalism from long-running avant-folk group Spires that in the Sunset Rise. The multi-instrumentalist duo of Ka Baird and Taralie Peterson ritualistically loop and layer a hypnotic tapestry of pre-verbal vocalizations, upright bass, flute, saxophone, synth, and autoharp, running each instrument through trippy stereo delays, visually represented by the two minute-apart clocks next to each other on the album cover. While not as witchy or jarring as the their early releases, Psychic Oscillations finds the band as entrancing as ever.

Anna & Elizabeth – The Invisible Comes to Us

The Invisible Comes to Us is a haunting, modern take on Appalachian and Irish folk songs. Beautiful close-harmonies, banjos and acoustic guitars are juxtaposed with droning atmospheres of woodwinds, Moog bass, pump organ, and euphonium. Guest musicians include Jim White on drums and Susan Alcorn on slide guitar.

Black Ox Orkestar – Ver Tanzt? Yeah

These impassioned, and often mournful, renditions of klezmer folk songs (both traditional and original) are infused with elements of free jazz, drone, and chamber music to create something both rooted and urgently modern (Even 15 years after its release). The mostly acoustic band features violinist Jessica Moss (also of Silver Mt. Zion) and upright bassist Thierry Amar (asmz, GY!BE) in addition to singer/multi-instrumentalist Scott Levine Gilmore and Clarinetist/Guitarist Gabe Levine.

Exuma – Exuma

Exuma’s first album is a powerful and ritualistic masterpiece of spiritual folk from the Bahamas. Exuma, the Obeah Man, is a master storyteller and preacher, sharing visions, myths, and prayers. His expressive, soulful voice takes on many tones as he delivers his musical sermons, from smooth to raspy, soft to confident. A group of singers, percussionists, whistlers, and toads join him and his acoustic guitar, making me imagine them all circled around a large fire in communal worship and grateful that they let us listeners in on it.

David Grubbs – The Thicket

On experimental musician/author/professor David Grubb’s first album as singer-songwriter, he synthesizes technical bluegrass banjo and fingerstyle acoustic guitar playing with imaginative arrangements, abrupt stylistic shifts, philosophical questioning lyrics, improvisation, drones, and an eclectic cast of musicians, including drummer John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake), bassist Josh Abrams (Natural Information Society), and drone violinist Tony Conrad.

Eric Chenaux – Slowly Paradise

Eric Chenaux’s gentle falsetto is the most constant, tangible element on an album characterized by a permanent state of flux. The guitars are warbly and unsteady with their fluctuating tones, volume, and pitch. Yet, despite their experimental nature, they never sound abrasive and, together with some mellow Wurlitzer, create a soft, pillowy environment for Chenaux’s romantic crooning about the nature of love, the moon, and warm nights.